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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN
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Switchgrass V International Conference:

Dedicated Energy Crops and Native Grasses

for the Emerging Bioeconomy

 

July 22-25, 2019

Holiday Inn

Champaign, Ill.

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Student Scholarships Available!

Switchgrass V International Conference is pleased to announce that up to five competitive scholarship grants for amounts of $250 will be awarded to student attendees for the 2019 conference. Grant funds are for registration or lodging expenses directly related to the conference for the awardee only.

Selection of successful applicants will be based upon submitted abstracts, which can be emailed to dcooney2@illinois.edu with the subject line of “Switchgrass V — travel scholarship application”. Abstracts will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. CST May 31, 2019. Awards will be announced by June 10. Questions can be emailed to dcooney2@illinois.edu.

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Program Coming Soon!

Accommodations

Venue, Parking, and Travel

About the Conference

This event will be an excellent opportunity for scientists and students from around the world to meet and interact with others from a wide range of disciplines.

Participants will discuss state-of-the-art research into switchgrass and other dedicated energy crops grown for forage, conservation, and bioenergy feedstock production.

Switchgrass V will include keynote speakers; sessions on genomics and genetic improvement, microbiomes and ecosystem services, agronomy and sustainable production, and postharvest processing and economics; as well as a student poster competition. Participants also will get to visit Illinois’ 320-acre Energy Farm, a model of production for large feedstock grasses.

The Switchgrass V International Conference is sponsored by the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the U of I’s Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), the Sun Grant Initiative’s North Central Center, Ernst Conservation Seeds, and the U.S. Department of Energy-funded Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI). Conference planning committee members include D.K. Lee, Tom Voigt, Mike Casler, Robert Mitchell, and Danielle Cooney.

Registration Information

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Accommodations

Venue, Parking, and Travel

Sponsors

Agenda, Speakers, and Panelists

Note:  The agenda times and dates are set. Particulars about the speakers are coming soon!

SPEAKERS: Please note that titles, abstracts and headshots are due no later than June 22. 

 

 

MONDAY, JULY 22

5-9 p.m. — On-site Registration/Materials Pick-Up/Hors d’Oeuvres

 

TUESDAY, JULY 23

7-8 a.m. — On-site Registration/Materials Pick-Up/Poster Setup/Breakfast

8-8:15 a.m. — Welcome, Overview, Introductions by Switchgrass V Host D.K. Lee

8:15-9 a.m. — Plenary: Michael Casler

Michael Casler

Research Geneticist, USDA-ARS Dairy Forage Research Center

Presentation title: “27 Years of Perennial Feedstock Research: Accomplishments and Unexpected Impacts”

Abstract: Switchgrass was chosen as the U.S. Department of Energy herbaceous model species for development of biofuel crops in 1992. Since that time, several other important perennial candidate species have emerged onto the research landscape, including miscanthus, energy cane, giant reed, and big bluestem. Grant funding has been sufficiently strong and diverse in Asia, Europe, and North America to support research within a wide range of disciplines, including agronomy and physiology, breeding and genetics, genomics, economics, logistics, and conversion technologies. As an example, agronomists and breeders have increased biomass yield of switchgrass by about 50% and have developed several scenarios by which marginal lands can be used to grow perennial biofuel crops without competing against food crops. Advancements have been made in establishment, management, harvesting, and storage of biofuel crops, all aimed at improving sustainability and reducing production costs. Additional conversion platforms have been developed to more fully utilize all plant biomass, without the need to delignify biomass to gain access to complex carbohydrates. Economic models have demonstrated that biomass production from perennial biofuel crops is sustainable, so the conversion facilities and markets have become the most important missing links for production of sustainable and renewable energy on marginal lands.

Bio: Casler is Research Geneticist with the USDA-ARS Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wis. He received a B.S. from the University of Illinois and graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota. His research is focused on perennial grass breeding and genetics, including forage and bioenergy applications. Casler served as one of the co-founding Editors-in-Chief of BioEnergy Research and has served on editorial boards of four other international scientific journals. He also founded the journal Forage and Grazlinglands, serving as its first Editor-in-Chief. He taught advanced experimental design and statistical data analysis for 35 years at the University of Wisconsin and as workshops at many other universities. 

More about Casler >>>

9-9:45 a.m. — Keynote: Thomas Juenger

Thomas Juenger

Professor of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin

Presentation title: “Genetic and Genomic Studies of Local Adaptation and Genotype-by-Environment Interaction in Switchgress”

Abstract: Coming soon.

Bio: Juenger is a Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago and completed postdoctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley as a Miller Fellow. Tom’s research focuses on interface of ecological and evolutionary quantitative genetics in natural plant populations. Much of his research has focused on studies of the genetics of physiological traits, abiotic stress tolerance, local adaptation and gene-by-environment interaction. His lab uses a variety of tools including statistical genetic analyses, quantitative trait locus (QTL) and association mapping, studies of gene expression, and genome sequencing. A longstanding effort has centered on the identification and characterization of genes underlying drought adaptation and physiology among natural populationscollected from diverse habitats. More recently, we have begun several projects exploring plant stress responses to climate change and local adaptation in C4 perennial grasses..

More about Juenger >>>

 

 

9:45-10:25 a.m. — Session 1.1: Genomics and Genetic Improvement, Part 1

9:45-10:05 a.m.

Loretta Johnson

Title, Institution coming soon

Presentation title: “Local Adaptation, Genetic Divergence, and Experimental Selection in a Foundation Grass across the U.S. Great Plains’ Climate Gradient”

Abstract: This research seeks to understand factors that contribute to population genetic divergence, formation of ecotypes, ultimately leading to new species. Habitats are often temporally and spatially variable, causing different selection pressures across gradients, and resulting in genetic divergence among populations. We focus on Andropogon gerardii, the dominant grass of the Great Plains, that represents ~70% of biomass. It has wide geographic distribution across the Great Plains precipitation gradient from western Kansas (dry) to Illinois (wet). Ecotypes (dry, mesic, wet) were reciprocally planted as ecological communities in Colby, Hays, and Manhattan, Kan., and Carbondale, Ill. It is crucial to understand bluestem responses to climate for restoration and bioenergy and agricultural cattle production. We tested for evidence of local adaptation over 6 years using single ecotype plots (community plots seeded with other prairie plants) and plots with all three ecotypes mixed together (community plots containing all three ecotypes and other prairie plants). Planting of ecotypes as a community and over multiple years is rarely done, but offers the most realistic test of local adaptation. We utlized Genotyping-By-Sequencing to identify SNP markers in these ecotypes. Principal Component Analyses and population STRUCTURE show strong genetic differentiation between dry and wet ecotypes. Ecotype performance was underpinned by differences in neutral diversity and candidate genes corroborating strong differences among ecotypes. Outlier analysis in Bayescan identified 64 markers under divergent selection, mainly related to rainfall including GA1 (a gene known to control internode length and height in plants), in which we observe strong ecotype differences between dry and wet ecotypes. GWAS showed that GA1 was associated with the plant height phenotype. Single ecotype community plots suggest local adaptation to drought with the plants from central Kansas having higher cover in Hays, and plants from Illinois having greater cover in its home site of Carbondale. To analyze the genetic composition of the mixed ecotype community plots, we used the GBS genotype information from plants of known ecotype, then trained a random forest model that allows us to assign unknown individuals from the mixed plots to one of three ecotypes. These multi-year, community plantings show evidence of local adaptation of dry and wet grass ecotypes in reciprocal gardens across the Great Plains. Ultimately these results will provide recommendations to land managers on which climate-adapted source populations of big bluestem will be best suited for bioenergy and restoration plantings in future warmer and drier climates. 

Bio: Coming soon.

More about Johnson coming soon >>>

 

10:05-10:25 a.m.

David Lowery

Title, Institution coming soon

Presentation title: “Geographic Patterns and Genetic Basis for Pathogen Resistance in Switchgrass”

Abstract: Coming soon.

Bio: Coming soon.

More about Lowery coming soon >>>

10:25-10:35 a.m. — Break

10:35 a.m.-12:15 p.m. — Session 1.2: Genomics and Genetic Improvement, Part 2

10:35-10:55 a.m.

Serge Edmé

Research Geneticist, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Presentation title: “Optimizing Selective Breeding in a Switchgrass Using Genetic and Genomic Tools”

Abstract: Coming soon.

Bio: Edmé is an expert in plant breeding and genetics of polyploid grasses and heads the USDA breeding of perennial grasses (switchgrass, big bluestem, etc.) in Lincoln, Neb., after spending nearly 20 years in sugarcane breeding. He makes use of genetic parameters to optimize breeding schemes used in polyploid species of perennial grasses being bred for livestock forages and bioenergy feedstocks. His research also looks to maximize genetic gains from breeding and selection by means of the “animal model” and estimation of BLUP,and breeding values. His lab integrates physiological parameters to understand the genetic bases of disease resistance and winter survival, and optimizes experimental designs and statistical analyses of genetic tests by accounting for spatial autocorrelation. Edmé received his B.S. at the School of Agronomy in Haiti and his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Florida.

More about Edmé >>>

 

10:55-11:15 a.m.

Erik Sacks

Associate Professor of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Presentation title: “Miscanthus as a Genetic Resource for Improving Sugarcane/Energycane”

Abstract: Coming soon.

Bio: Coming soon.

More about Sacks >>>

 

11:15-11:35 a.m.

Malay Saha

Title, Institution coming soon

Presentation title: “Genetic Loci Controlling Key Characteristics of Switchgrass for Biofuel Production”

Abstract: Coming soon.

Bio: Coming soon.

More about Saha coming soon >>>

 

11:35-11:55 a.m.

Lorna Nissen

Title, Institution coming soon

Presentation title:Puccinia emaculata Whole Genome Sequencing and QTL Mapping of Rust Resistance in Switchgrass”

Abstract: Coming soon.

Bio: Coming soon.

More about Nissen coming soon >>>

 

11:55 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Shui-Zhang Fei

Professor of Horticulture, Iowa State University

Presentation title: “Enhanced Tiller Production in Lowland Switchgrass Mutants Created by Gene Editing”

Abstract: Coming soon.

Bio: Fei’s current research is on establishing and using gene editing tools in perennial grasses to study functions of genes that regulate growth, development or environmental stress tolerance. He published extensively on QTL mapping, transcriptomic analysis and transgenic research related to freezing tolerance in ryegrass and the model grass brachypodium. Another research focus of Fei’s lab is on the use of cool-season perennial grasses as ground cover for maize and soybean production. Fei has served as an Associate Editor for Crop Science and an e-book editor for Genetics and Genomics of Polyploidy Plants. He teaches Growth and Development of Perennial Grasses and Crop Genetics. Fei obtained his B.S. in Agronomy and M.S. in Horticulture from China Agricultural University and his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a focus on turfgrass biotechnology. In 2011, he was a Visiting Professor at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California at Berkeley, where he worked on self-incompatibility in Miscanthus.

More about Fei >>>

12:15-1 p.m. — Lunch buffet

1-2:50 p.m. — Session 2.1: Microbiomes and Ecosystem Services, Part 1

1-1:30 p.m.

Virginia Jin

Title, Institution coming soon

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Bio: Coming soon.

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1:30-1:50 p.m.

Cathy Stewart

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1:50-2:10 p.m.

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2:10-2:30 p.m.

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2:30-2:50 p.m.

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2:50-3:05 p.m. — Break

3:05-4:55 p.m. — Session 2.2: Microbiomes and Ecosystem Services, Part 2

3:05-3:35 p.m.

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3:35-3:55 p.m.

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3:55-4:15 p.m.

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4:15-4:35 p.m.

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4:35-4:55 p.m.

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5-6 p.m. — Poster Competition

6-7 p.m. — Dinner

 

WEDNESDAY, JULY 24

7-8 a.m. — Breakfast

8-8:30 a.m. — Keynote: Calvin Ernst

Calvin Ernst

Owner/Founder, Ernst Conservation Seeds Co.

Presentation title: “From Failure to Success with Switchgrass — A Grower’s Perspective”

Abstract: Coming soon.

Bio: Ernst graduated from Penn State in 1963 with a degree in agricultural bioscience. He founded Ernst Crownvetch Farms in 1964. In the late 1980s, Calvin saw a decline in the crownvetch market. He soon shifted nearly his entire product offering to native plant seeds and changed his company’s name to Ernst Conservation Seeds Co. The company is now the largest native seed producer in the eastern United States. What began as 5 acres of crownvetch now includes nearly 10,000 acres and 400 species of native warm- and cool-season grasses, forbs and bioengineering (live plant) materials. The company employs nearly 90 people. Sons Andy and Michael Ernst are actively involved with Calvin in leading the family business. Calvin was chosen as the Agribusiness Leader of the Year by the National Agri-Marketing Association in 2018. In 2017, he accepted a nomination to serve on the new Team PA Agriculture Advisory Board, a 25-member board consisting of executive leaders representing the breadth of Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector and industries on which it depends. He received the Atlantic Seed Association’s 2015 Honorary Seedsman Award; Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Outstanding Alumnus award in 2014; the American Agriculturist Master Farmer award in 2008; and the Governor Raymond P. Shafer Distinguished Service to the Community Award in 2007.

More about Ernst and his company >>>

8:30-10 a.m. — Session 3.1: Agronomy and Sustainable Production, Part 1

8:30-9 a.m.

Fred Circle

CEO/Owner, FDC Enterprises

Presentation title: “Community-Based Closed-Loop Power Generation Utilizing SG as a Bio Feedstock Source”

Abstract: Coming soon.

Bio: Circle is the CEO/owner of FDC Enterprises (FDCE), headquartered in Ohio. FDCE branched out into native prairie restoration work in 2003. To date, FDCE is approaching 400,000 acres of prairie establishment in 26 states and eastern Europe. Based on its skillsets in rapid establishment, FDCE was asked in 2006 to establish 400 acres of native prairie for an R&D project by CMI of Virginia, providing a renewable perineal bio feedstock for processing into boiler fuel for the Piedmont Geriatric Hospital; replacing wet food and fuel oil. FDCE subsequently commercialized the project and today provides switchgrass boiler fuel year-round to the hospital boiler(s) from its 3,300 acres of Virginia-grown switchgrass.

More about FDC Enterprises >>>

 

9-9:20 a.m.

Speaker TBA

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9:20-9:40 a.m.

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9:40-10 a.m.

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10-10:15 a.m. — Break

10:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m. — Session 3.2: Agronomy and Sustainable Production, Part 2

10:15-10:45 a.m.

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10:45-11:05 a.m.

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11:05-11:25 a.m.

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11:25-11:45 a.m.

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11:45 a.m.-12:05 p.m.

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12:05-1:10 p.m. — Lunch buffet

1:10-3 p.m. — Session 4.1: Postharvest Processing and Economics, Part 1

1:10-1:40 p.m.

David Archer

Title, Institution coming soon

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More about Archer coming soon >>>

 

1:40-2 p.m.

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2-2:20 p.m.

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2:20-2:40 p.m.

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2:40-3 p.m.

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3-3:15 p.m. — Break

3:15-5:05 p.m. — Session 4.2: Postharvest Processing and Economics, Part 2

3:15-3:45 p.m.

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3:45-4:05 p.m.

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4:05-4:25 p.m.

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4:25-4:45 p.m.

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4:45-5:05 p.m.

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5:15 p.m. — Bus to Illinois Energy Farm

6:30-7:30 p.m. — Dinner at Energy Farm

 

THURSDAY, JULY 25

7-8 a.m. — Breakfast

8 a.m. — Workshop: Agrostology, Grass Identification

(led by Arvid Boe, Professor of Agronomy, Horticulture & Plant Science, South Dakota State University; and Tom Voigt, Professor of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Accommodations & More

Venue

The Holiday Inn is located off of Neil Street (U.S. 45), a major north-south artery in Champaign. This facility is a welcoming space for overnight stays and meetings.

The hotel block is set; to make reservations, call 217-298-3400 and ask for the Switchgrass V Conference on July 22-25.

Of note:

  • Block discount rate expires on June 22;
  • Check in 3 p.m. and check out at 11 a.m.;
  • Complementary 24-hour shuttle service to and from airport/bus & train station
  • 100% smoke-free hotel
  •  

Address: 101 Trade Center Drive
Champaign, IL 61820

View on Google Maps.

Holiday Inn website >>>

 

Nearby eats

The hotel’s location off Neil Street is near several fast food and fine dining locations. Among the Champaign originals are The Ribeye, Jarling’s Custard Cup, and the original Merry Ann’s Diner.

Air Travel

Willard Airport (CMI)

The quickest, easiest way to travel a long distance to the iSEE Congress is to fly into Willard Airport (CMI) in Savoy.

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